In Summary

• Around 75 percent of all bets placed are returned to punters as winnings.

• The betting companies paid around Sh15 billion in tax in 2018.

Ronald Karauri, CEO of Sportpesa on February 2, during the fifth anniversary celebrations held at Nairobi’s Trademark Hotel in Gigiri. 

On Wednesday the Betting Control and Licensing Board asked the telecom companies to shut down the paybills and short codes of 27 betting companies. 

Betting has existed since the dawn of human history. It is not likely to go away, even if the Kenyan betting companies are closed down.

The betting companies are clearly profitable but we should not exaggerate their revenue. Around 75 percent of all bets are returned to punters as winnings. So if Sh200 billion was placed in bets in 2018, their Gross Gaming Revenue would have been Sh50 billion. 

Sports betting companies then paid the Treasury around Sh15 billion in 2018 (see P2).

Much of this betting is online. Three of the 10 top websites used by Kenyans are betting sites. 

If our betting companies are closed down, Kenyans will still be able to bet offshore since M-Pesa connects to international payment platforms. Then that Sh15 billion in tax will just go to the foreign countries that host those websites.

Let’s regulate Kenyan betting companies and make certain that their profits are reasonable and proportionate. But let’s not put them out of business.

Quote of the day: “Man’s mind is so formed that it is far more susceptible to falsehood than to truth.”

Desiderius Erasmus
The Dutch philosopher died on July 12, 1536